It was the late summer of the year, in the early forties in Alderson,
the leaves were just beginning to have that look about them, in fact a
few of them were falling and one knew that the lovely, hot summer days
would soon be past. The farmers had cured their last cuttings of hay and
the high school boys were getting possibly their last chance of the year
for some extra pocket money. Tomorrow was the long awaited first day of
football practice. The excitement was already evident in the exuberance
of the veterans and the scared excitement of the new boys.
Our hero, or at least the one who this particular tale is about, was
heading home from the hayfields of Grady Eades. He was tired after a day
of slinging bales of hay from the ground to the wagon, It’s not awfully
hard at first but when the load gets three, four or more bales high it’s
exhausting, the sun can get awfully hot in the afternoon and the chaff
of the dry grasses gets pretty aggravating when it’s down ones pant legs
and shirt neck.
Finally at last, Grady declared it was quitting time and the last load
was on the wagon, get it in the barn and then it was time for the cool
waters of the Greenbrier River, cloths and all!
When they loaded onto the flatbed truck for the ride back to town, they
very thoughtfully brought along a supply of apples from somebody’s tree.
The all agreed that whoever the tree belonged to had, just a few years
before, told one of the fellows that he could help himself to a few,
they knew he wouldn’t care.
Grady’s old truck just did not begin to run right until it was up to
about 40 miles an hour, which was about all a Model A farm truck was
ever going to do anyhow! Grady liked to put it to the maximum!
As they exuberantly shouted and yelled to all the people whose houses
they went by and threw apples at all the dogs and young lads they
passed, they lied and told tales of past exploits of themselves and
those they had known, or heard others talk about.
It was summertime and they were going to live forever. Coming along what
was about the only straight stretch of road between Grady’s place and
the city limits of Alderson, George Herman began to anticipate one last
target for his remaining apples. They were approaching the Hill House,
right smack-dab in the sharp ninety degree curve at the top of the hill,
the home of Housby, Lee and Edwin Hill, all near contemporaries of our
own George Herman, the apple slinging marvel! Oh! Wonder of wonders,
luck was with them today, Edwin was in his yard, and even better, was
completely unaware of what was about to occur! The truckload of boys
unloaded their apples on poor Edwin just as Grady turned the corner and
unloaded the hee-haw whooping with joy, George! Off the truck he flew,
arms-flaying, feet a moving, and a 3 foot tall pile of State Road
cinders, left over from winter, waiting to greet him, almost even you
might say, welcoming him with their gritty embrace!
If you recall from the beginning of this tale, the next day football
practice began, George Herman got up early and after he had pulled his
blood-soaked, and sticking to his wounds, night-cloths off, distaining
breakfast he lit a shuck for the high school dressing room. After he had
gotten all of his football gear, custom and necessity demanded that he
take off his cloths and put on his practice wear. Just as he stood there
in all his glory, a marvelous specimen of Alderson’s finest, Coach
McLaughlin spied his red and ragged and torn torso and exclaimed, with
unusual vigor for Coach. “ My Gad Boy, What were you trying to do?
This from the lips of the genuine article, my friend, “George Herman
“Suicide” Foster. You know that if “Suicide” said that was the way it
had happened, you can take it to the bank! You do know that, do you not?